By Joyce Rudolph
Those interested in Burbank history will be glad to know that the Gordon R. Howard Museum Complex
is open to the public again.
The facility closed during the onset of the CoVid pandemic in March 2020, said Carey Briggs, president
of the Burbank Historical Society.
During the lockdown, board members have communicated online through Zoom calls as well as in-person
meetings, while practicing social distancing, Briggs said.
Volunteers resumed staffing the museum last weekend. The museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. every
Saturday and Sunday. In addition, people can reserve private tours by going to the website, which is
BurbankHistoricalsoc.org or emailing Tour@burbankhistoricalsoc.org.
The museum is at 115 Lomita St., and the parking and main entrance is in the block of 1100 West Clark
A few of the museum exhibits have been moved around and some have been updated, Briggs said.
“NBC has spruced up its exhibit and there are a lot of new, vibrant things in there,” he said “The museum
has been thoroughly cleaned … It’s looking real good. We’re ready to go.”
Visitors are asked to wear masks in the museum, but after June 15, the state rules will be followed, unless
the city of Burbank creates its own rules, Briggs said.
“We are looking forward to seeing visitors back at the museum,” he said. “All the docents have received
their CoVid vaccines and are ready to go to tell people about the history of Burbank.”
In an effort to keep the local schools involved in the museum, the society recently welcomed three new
board members interested in that goal, Briggs said. They are Brian Slaught, owner of Story Tavern; Ted
Garcia, a former board president who has rejoined the organization; and Marisa Di Domenico-Day, who
serves on the City of Burbank Heritage Commission.
The society board is working with the Burbank Unified School District to resume school tours of the
museum when the district’s CoVid protocols are put in place, said Marie Dennis, society vice president.
“We have been contacted by certain schools to give assembly presentations at the schools,” she added.
Board member Mari Pititto was in charge of school and group tours prior to the CoVid lockdown, Dennis
said. Pititto is a former teacher and that is why she has been conducting the school tours.
“She is reconnecting with a lot of her former (school) contacts to size up the situation and see what the
appetite is and how soon we can get back to normal,” she said.
The society board has been reaching out to the community to continue adding exhibits to the museum.
Briggs is currently working with the Burbank Police Department to create a new exhibit highlighting its
achievements over the years. Also in the planning stages is a theater exhibit.
“We have been given the original glass from the ticket booth of the Magnolia Theater,” Briggs said.
Some of the long-standing exhibits include those showing the history of NBC, Lockheed, Warner Bros.
Another big draw to the museum is the James Jeffries exhibit, Briggs said, which features memorabilia
honoring the former World’s Heavy Weight Boxing Champion, a title he won in 1899. He bought a ranch
in Burbank in 1904 and raised prize-winning cattle, dairy cows, alfalfa, and grain. Jeffries later organized
boxing events in his barn near the area of Victory Boulevard and Buena Vista Street.
“He was the first international star in the city of Burbank, and people would come from all over the world
to meet him,” Briggs said.
In addition to boxing matches, Jeffries owned a bull stud service selling bull sperm to cattle owners in the
The United States and as far as Spain and South America, Briggs added.
Many of the museum donations have come from Burbank residents.
For people who like vintage vehicles, there are 15 cars, trucks, and buses on display. Another room
showcases ladies’ vintage dresses, hats, handbags, and accessories dating back to the early 1900s. Four
vignettes illustrate how rooms might have been decorated in the early 20th century.